Woman's death was murder; no suspect named - FOX 13 News

Woman's death was murder; no suspect named

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The Hillsborough Medical Examiner on Wednesday ruled the death of a woman -- whose body was found burned beyond recognition last month -- a murder.

The family is irate because the man they believe killed her was just let out of jail.

This confirmed what investigators said they thought early on, that Gwendolyn Belcher was murdered.

"We've suspected that all along, so from day one," said Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "When Mrs. Belcher was located, we treated this as a suspicious death."

They know how she died, but the sheriff's office can't give out details yet. Was she killed in her Mango home? Or in her car burned beyond recognition at an intersection in Thonotosassa?

"I wouldn't want to release exactly where she died, or specifically how she died at this moment, since that is still details that only the killer would know, so we're gonna keep that closely guarded right now," said McKinnon.

Deputies said September 15, the night before she died, her husband Christopher struck her across the face and was arrested, charged with domestic violence. The next evening, her body turned up in that burnt car.

"Is Belcher the only suspect?," we asked McKinnon. "We're gonna look at everybody in this investigation," he replied.

Belcher was the last person to see her alive. Gwen's family remains unconvinced anybody else wanted to kill her.

"You don't think there's anybody else that could be a suspect?" we asked a relative Juan Martin Ortiz.

"He's the only one," said Ortiz emphatically. "He always knew where his wife was at all times."

"I can't understand why somebody would do something like this to her," Gwendolyn's daughter Rekale Hill said tearfully, when we interviewed her back on September 18. "It's not something that she deserved."

Christopher Belcher was released from jail Tuesday, cleared of the misdemeanor battery charge.

"There were fights amongst the family members," said McKinnon. "They were very angry with Christopher Belcher."

Belcher called the sheriff's office and asked for an escort home to pick up his personal belongings.

"Out of fear that he would be attacked by family members for reprisal, for what they believe, him being responsible for her death," said McKinnon. "We're not going to allow vigilante justice to occur."

"The family is not about that, we deal with justice," insisted Ortiz.

"Well, honestly, I think it's terrible, I heard on the news about the family," said a neighbor Austin Simmons, who has seen dozens of people stopping by to place flowers on her doorstep.

"We're still hoping right now, that justice will prevail and lock him up," added Ortiz.

The sheriff's office said they're still collecting evidence and getting their case together. They have not named Belcher as a suspect but said they know where he is.

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